Interview With Leatherback

Metal Addicts – First of all, guys, congrats to your albums! I had the pleasure of reviewing Part 1 – Momentum and Part 2 – Regression. Tell us the stories about both albums. Are they in some sort connected? Are both concept albums?

Leatherback – Thanks for this, I’m glad you enjoyed parts 1 + 2. Basically, the idea behind this project was to explore some new areas that I’d never really been able to go to in projects that I’ve had in the past.

Part 1 was a way of testing the waters, seeing what it was that I wanted to write and how I wanted to work. There’s a naivety and open mindedness to it which I think comes through in the mood of that EP. When it came to Part 2, I wanted this to be darker and more organic, like every good sequel should be. It’s a more developed EP that naturally builds on some of the ideas brought forward in Part 1.

You’re right to think that they are in some way connected, and that there is a concept behind them, but I’d rather leave that open to interpretation.

Metal Addicts – 
Could you give us a brief on the band. I mean who you are, when did it start, things like this. I know it’s not easy to get things ready to record an album. So many rehearsals, line-up sometimes changes, songs get different in the studio, and other things. How was your experience? Is there a full-length on the way? One more thing I love to ask: how is your songwriting process? Is there a mastermind or masterminds? How is to write an instrumental-only album? Why did you choose to do so?

Leatherback – Well to start, it’s just me, kind of a one man band deal. Essentially I started off the project at the start of January because I wanted to write something I felt was different to what I’d been doing  at the time and the premise was just to write without limits, see what came out and go from there. I imagine that I will probably work on a full length at some point but there is a plan for the immediate future that I need to see through first.

Pretty much every song I write starts from a little kernel of an idea and builds from there, it might be a riff, it might be a synth patch I’ve been playing with or something more vague, like a vibe I want to get across. Take “Momentum”for example, I wanted to write something that just built and built rather than following the kind of verse / chorus / verse structure, so I started writing with that in mind and “Momentum” is what ended up coming out.

The main reason I chose to write instrumental music was again, it was something I had never done before. The most obvious difference between writing instrumental and non-instrumental is that you can’t rely on words to get across the emotion that you’re trying to convey. If you’re pissed, you can’t just scream louder, you have to get creative. It’s also another thing that I find challenging about the project, finding creative ways to keep the songs interesting without the benefit of words.

 Metal Addicts – From where I’m standing, the name of a band is the most important thing because it’s the band’s identity which may reflect on songs and everything else. The band’s name is Leatherback, what does it mean to you? How did you come up with it?

Leatherback – Have you ever seen inside a leatherback turtle’s mouth? It’s the most metal thing I’ve ever seen!

Metal Addicts – Sorry, I haven’t… [Laughs] But I will, promise [Chuckles]

Leatherback aren’t exactly an experimental band, but there are some experimental elements in the band. Are they on purpose? The mix with art rock, most notably ELP – I guess, industrial metal and classic metal is very present in Leatherback. How do you deal with them? BTW, what are Leatherback’s influences?

Leatherback – Personally, I’d never actually listened to ELP until you made the comparison in that review of  Pt.1 but now I have and I’m flattered. Truth is, I’m not just a metal fan, I like to let everything I enjoy influence me and that isn’t limited to just music.

Going into Leatherback, I would say that my main influences in this are Tool and Nine Inch Nails, maybe Meshuggah a bit later on. There’s a whole other bunch of influences in there too but that being said, the influence that shaped the way those influences are put together would have to be the soundtrack to Doom (2016) by Mick Gordon. I listened to that about a year before I’d ever played the game and immediately became obsessed, especially with tracks like “BFG Division or Rust, Dust and Guts,” which are about as heavy as a neutron star. The way all these things are balanced varies from song to song but it really depends on what best serves the feeling that i’m going for at the time.

In terms of the experimentation elements in Leatherback, they are very much on purpose, it’s part of what keeps me interested in making music. What’s the point of making something creative if you don’t try to bring something new to it?

Metal Addicts – Good to hear that I was handy in some sort. [Laughs]. Heavy Metal is one of the musical genres that still sticks to the good old album formula and it is consistently doing pretty well. I mean, HM albums still sell, of course not as much as pop, but it does. There is an open debate among musicians and the media that bands are making very few dollars with albums due to all the existing digital services which allow fans to get music without paying a penny. What’s your view about this debate? BTW, can Leatherback make a living with their music or you all have other jobs?

Leatherback – I think it’s no secret that the way people consume music is changing and I don’t think there’s any point in trying to fight or change that. However, it’s important that the music community, consumers and creators alike, find ways to fairly pay artists for their product whether that be live music, streams or CDs. Nobody starts in a place where they can sustain themselves on music streams alone, so it’s so important that if you are a fan of music and you come across a band that you really like, you make an effort to show some support for them. Buy a CD or a tee from the merch stand at the end of the set, make yourself known.

We’re in a period of change at the moment and the old music industry model is dying but I’m optimistic that bands will find new ways to be able to survive and thrive in a digital world. At the moment for me, there’s no way I could continue to work on Leatherback without another job so I can live, but maybe one day that will change.

Metal Addicts – Due to all aforementioned, tours are more than ever a very important channel to get in touch with fans, to promote albums, and of course, to provide the means so he band can keep up. So, what are your plans for tours? Does the world have a plan to Leatherback? Could tell us where you have played around the years? What was the most unusual place you have played?

 Leatherback – Currently I have no solid plans to tour because this initial stage has been focused on writing and getting new music out, but it’s another one of the things on the list. I haven’t yet taken Leatherback on the road but I’ve gigged in a couple of different bands over the years and ended up in a couple of weird places, outside a Homebase once, house parties in sheds, that kind of thing.

Metal Addicts –
Metal scene today is very diverse. There are lots of bands playing music with lots of influences bringing up some excellent new material. I see that Leatherback are eagerly looking for bringing some new sonances to Metal. How do you feel about it? Are you a nostalgic band that praise the good old days or do you think the best is still to come? How do you feel about new bands?

Leatherback – I would say that there is a certain nostalgia around what I do, I would be lying to you if I said that albums like “Rust In Peace,” “The Number Of The Beast”and “Vulgar Display of Power” didn’t shape who I am today, but I’m more interested in how I can incorporate old ideas in with new ideas rather than re-treading the same pathways.

 I love that there are new bands out there making awesome music but like I was saying, it’s important that bands continue to find new ways to adapt and survive and that includes musically. There will always be trends in metal, but as long as there are bands who keep moving the genre forward rather than copy what everyone else is doing, the scene will stay fresh. I have found that often the bands that are making the most experimental, new and interesting music are the least heard of, but I believe that there is a place for every artist, it’s just finding it that’s tough.

Metal Addicts – How’s the scene to instrumental bands? Do you miss a frontman?

Leatherback – I’m not sure yet, but i’ll let you know when I find out.

Metal Addicts – Well, I think that’s all for now. Hope you guys get really well with Leatherback. Wish you the best of luck. Greetings from Metal Addicts.

Leatherback – Thanks!